PLaying with fire

From left, columnist Dale Valade uses a leaf blower to breathe life into a campfire at elk camp last fall with Walter Shaldoujah, Rick Valade and Jim Parson.

It’s been one heck of a year so far, and it’s only June. Like you, I’ve been doing whatever it takes to keep the bills paid and the family fed. For us “essential workers,” life has been especially hectic the last couple of months. Many have had to take multiple sanitation measures for their own personal safety. Before, the sight of someone wearing pantyhose over their head in public may have been cause for alarm. Now it just means they can’t find the proper PPE. And don’t get me started on toilet paper. There may be a niche market for corn husks and mullin leaves down the road. All joking aside, it helps to have a sense of humor, and I can’t wait to go camping, fishing and hunting again.

Besides being an amazing source of stress relief, there is just something about the reverent sounds of nature that calls to our souls. Whether it’s the babbling brook or rushing river, the taste of a Dutch oven meal or crackling campfire camaraderie, many are the blessings to be had when we get away from it all.

Due to the relatively mild winter and wet spring, we need to be extra careful in our goings about this summer. The winged insects and parasites have had a banner year and are out in force. The rattlesnakes are always a concern, but other snakes which are natural predators to the western diamondback will also be out. Make sure you don’t shoot the wrong reptile.

Each year many folks drown for lack of education or safety measures taken in and around sources of water. Our 10-month-old son was blessed with a very curious soul, and as such, we must watch him like hawks to insure his continual safety. For this I wish to add, be extra careful for the sake of both children and the elderly. A moment of inconvenience taken to double check on them may save you a lifetime of misery endured. This also goes when dealing with fire.

Every year wildfires become a part of our lives here in Grant County and the surrounding areas. Some of these are the result of acts of nature, such as lightning or spontaneous combustion. Many however are the result of ignorance or poor habits. Shooting tannerite explosives or tracer ammunition into combustible backstops can be to blame. So too can failure to properly manage and extinguish your burn barrels or campfires. Be aware of and observe any fire restrictions; these are in place for good reason. Always take along a shovel and a few extra gallons of water to properly mop up your campfire. Rekindles happen. I’ve seen fire “sleep” in the ground for weeks even months before a dry, gusty summer wind coaxes them back to life in the arid, yellow grass.

Being alive is fun. Don’t let harm come to yourself or others because of failure to think ahead. We live in the greatest place on earth, let’s keep it that way!

Any tips for safety during your summer outdoors activities? Write to us at!

Dale Valade is a local country gent with a love for the outdoors, handloading, hunting and shooting.

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